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The terms listed here are my own personal interpretation of them for the report, and I do not advocate them as being totally reliable. In April 2006, I added Wikipedia entries to the bold headings so you can compare. If you require further clarification on some of these terms, then please contact me on e-mail. Where necessary, I have included the web address of important companies or organisations where further information can be obtained.

Cambridge, UK based computer manufacturer set up in 1978 as a small firm. Subsequently designed the BBC Micro, as used in many schools, followed by the Archimedes range, and the Risc PC. Contains the company's own operating system, RISC OS, which is capable of running extension cards to provide PC/Windows capability. The company closed its computer division in September 1998, effectively ending 20 years of UK computer manufacturing, to specialise in digital television solutions.
California based computer company responsible for the Macintosh computer, co-designed by co-founder Steve Jobs. It was the first computer to utilise the now standard desktop environment on its first release in 1984.
A compact disc specially formatted to contain digital media of any form for use on a computer. It should not be used in a normal audio CD drive! CD-ROM discs are formatted to an agreed standard, called ISO 9660, to allow any computer to run it, regardless of the platform it was written for.
A computers metaphoric representation of how files and data are stored in its memory or on its hard disc, through the use of onscreen Icons.
Disc Operating System. Low level control language used in the oldest PCs to handle discs and user commands. Being difficult to use, it was superseded by Microsoft's own version, MS-DOS. It was phased out with the release of Windows 95.
DOS extensions
Three letters at the end of a filename (e.g. REPORT.DOC indicates that the file is a Microsoft Word document) that require adding to all files on pre-Windows 95 PCs, to older systems determine their type. Although these letters are not required in Windows 95 or later operating systems, they are still used by multimedia designers to ensure that files will run correctly on these older “legacy” systems.
Name given to special Macintosh files used to describe the file's type and what created it. Normally invisible to Macintosh users, they can be seen on PCs and Acorn machines. Various forks are possible; data forks (the actual file data), icon forks (responsible for giving a Macintosh file its icon), and resource forks (containing a unique four letter code describing the file type). They are responsible for letting Macintosh files work!
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
Image format devised by the network company Compuserve ( for the quick transfer of images across networked computer systems. It has now been adopted by the World Wide Web as a common method of image transfer.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
The computer language used for the design of WWW pages on the Internet. It was first used in 1990, the year the World Wide Web was born.
Visual aids used to represent items on a desktop. They can tell you what type of data the file is, and enable the user to identify what software can open it.
See World Wide Web (WWW)
ISO 9660
International Standards Organisation ( CD-ROM Blueprint. Agreed in 1988 by key CD manufacturers, ISO 9660 consists of a set of rules governing how a CD-ROM should operate on any computer, and covers how files and directories are written to a CD-ROM. All CD-ROMs must comply with the standard, in order to be accepted on any computer and its CD drive.
Java (
(Related terms JavaOS, JDK, PersonalJava etc.). Developed by Sun Microsystems (, Java is an interpreted language capable of being run on any computer which supports it fully, thereby being platform independent. Any program written in Java does not need any altering for it to be run on another platform.
Java Virtual Machine
Software which interprets the Java language to platform specific code. It sits “on top” of the computer’s operating system, and enables any Java written programs to run smoothly on that computer. In order to run Java on a particular platform, it must have a Java Virtual Machine written for it.
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
A file standard for photographic images that is platform independent. It allows high quality rendering, yet utilises an intelligent compression system to make files very small.
Apple’s Macintosh Operating System. Formerly known as System 6, 7 etc., it differs substantially from PC Windows, but is partly hard disc based. It supports DOS formatted floppy discs to allow compatibility with PCs.
Macromedia (
California based software company formed in 1988, and responsible for developing the leading multimedia production package Director, as well as other multimedia authoring tools such as Flash, Dreamweaver and Authorware, all available in both Macintosh and Windows versions. Macromedia was merged with Adobe in 2005.
Microsoft (
Seattle, Washington based company co-founded by William (aka Bill) Gates, and responsible for the design and marketing of the Windows operating system. It is the largest computer firm in the world.
MPEG (Movie Player Experts Group)
An agreed standard for the playing of digital movies across many platforms. The movie equivalent of JPEG.
Network Computer (NC)
Small device which is connected to a phone line and a television, allowing users to surf the Internet, without the need to purchase a more expensive desktop computer. Software is stored at a central location, and is sent automatically to the NC when it is updated. The user may, however, add a storage device to it for peace of mind. The NC is operated by a smart card that is password protected, and with the card, any NC in the world can be used, for it will link to your personal account. The NC was designed by Acorn, on behalf of Oracle Corporation.
Operating system
The computers brain, containing all its commands and knowledge. Without it, the computer is useless. It is either based in ROM chips or based on the hard disc of the computer.
The number of colours available on the computer screen. The palette system on each platform is arranged differently, so that images created on one platform can appear subtlely different on another. Palettes are measured in terms of bits i.e. 1 bit (black and white) up to 32 bit (16 million colours).
PC (Personal Computer)
Originally known as the IBM PC (named after the company, IBM ( which first produced small ready to run home computers), the IBM was dropped after they failed to patent their design, enabling many firms to release their own computer, or clone. Nowadays, nearly every PC runs some form of Microsoft Windows to give the PC a “desktop.”
Term used in computing to describe a distinct model or type of computer, usually by manufacturer or by the software which drives it. This report describes three platforms, the PC, the Macintosh and the Acorn.
Quicktime (
Apple’s patented movie playing system. Quicktime movies are supported on Macintosh, PC and to a certain degree, Acorn platforms. It is one of a number of movie playing systems. Others include AVI, Replay and MPEG.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
The computers short term memory, used by software during operation. When the computer is turned off, all the contents of the RAM are deleted.
RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing)
Technical term used to describe how a computer can run using a small set of built in instructions, thereby increasing its speed, and reducing power consumption. It is seen as the future direction of microprocessor technology.
Acorn’s own operating system, as used in the Archimedes and Risc PC range of computers. It differs from Windows 95 and MAC OS by being a ROM based operating system, that is not reliant on the hard disc inside the computer. This hereby reduces the chances of the operating system breaking down or becoming infected by a computer virus.
ROM (Read Only Memory)
The computers permanent memory, whereby powering down the machine has no effect on it, the opposite of RAM. Operating Systems, or any commands vital to the running of the computer are usually stored in ROM.
SCSI (Standard Computer Systems Interface)
Agreed standard to enable external devices (such as Syquest drives) to interface with any computer, in order to function. There are three versions of the standard, the second, SCSI-II being the most common, and most established.
Browser technology developed by Macromedia to allow Director files to be incorporated within a webpage. The technology compresses the file and all resident sounds stored within it, to allow faster downloading, and streaming, which plays the file before it has finished downloading. A newer variation of Shockwave, Shockwave Flash, allows vector animated multimedia to be produced within a webpage. Vector graphics are more efficient than bitmaps, resulting in even faster downloading off the Internet.
Syquest (
US manufacturer of recordable media devices for computers, which filed for bankcruptcy in 1998. Products included the EZ135, EZFlyer and Syjet removable cartridge drives. They are similar to normal floppy disc drives, yet each cartridge can as much as 1500 times more information than a floppy disc. Other manufacturers of such drives include Iomega (, who produce the Zip and Jaz drives. All these drives are used heavily in design to transport large pieces of work.
WWW (World Wide Web)
Also known as the Internet, it is the global network of computers which transfer textual and graphical information to users. Text and images can include an interactive element, whereby clicking on an item will display another page of information. All pages are programmed using HTML.

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